(This preview contains major plot points for Dark Nights: Metal #4.)

Superhero crossover events have a tendency to be pits of mediocrity that pull down the books that tie in to them, but Dark Nights: Metal is an exhilarating superhero epic that actually feels like a major turning point for the DC Universe. Writer Scott Snyder is pulling inspiration from creators like Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison, two creators fascinated by how superheroes fit into grander storytelling traditions, and Metal embraces the grandiosity and playfulness of the past while tapping into deeper themes of family, hope, and redemption. It also hasn’t taken over the DC line the way events like Civil War II and Secret Empire affected (infected?) Marvel books for months, and there’s been a very manageable number of Metal tie-ins that enrich the crossover without derailing ongoing stories.

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This week’s Metal #4 ended with the reveal that Carter Hall, formerly Hawkman, has been transformed in a giant hawk-beast that guards the Dark Forge currently corrupting the Multiverse. The story of that change is told in next week’s Hawkman: Found one-shot, teaming writer Jeff Lemire with penciller Bryan Hitch, inker Kevin Nowlan, and colorist Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Skipper to trace Carter’s path from hero to prisoner to monster. Lemire made his return to DC after two years with a short story in last month’s DC Holiday Special 2017, but Hawkman: Found has him diving into the deep end of the current DCU as he helps reimagine a classic character for a massive event. He’s working with an A-list art team, and this exclusive preview of Hawkman: Found #1 shows how pairing Hitch with the legendary inker like Nowlan brings out the meticulous detail of the pencils with smooth, confident lines and delicate shading.

Since leaving DC, Jeff Lemire has played in the Marvel and Valiant sandboxes while also building his own superhero universe in the pages of Black Hammer, this year’s Eisner Award winner for Best New Series, and he’s at his best when he has creative freedom. Over at Marvel, Lemire did some strong work on Moon Knight and All-New Hawkeye, but was buried under editorial restrictions for Extraordinary X-Men, a book completely devoid of passion. Hopefully DC will give him plenty of room to bring his distinct point of view to his new projects like The Terrifics, which gives DC a Fantastic Four-style quartet because there isn’t one at Marvel right now. Hawkman: Found will be an indicator of how well Lemire is able to work within the boundaries set by a big crossover, and given how fun and flexible Metal has been, there’s a high probability that this one-shot will take advantage of Lemire’s strengths.

Image: DC Comics; cover by Liam Sharp and Jason Wright

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Image: DC Comics; variant by Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair
Image: DC Comics
Image: DC Comics

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Image: DC Comics
Image: DC Comics
Image: DC Comics

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Image: DC Comics
Image: DC Comics